Egyptian authorities have banned protests and tightened security overnight to prevent demonstrators from repeating the rally on January 25, when thousands took to the streets of Cairo to denounce President Hosni Mubarak. Bloomberg spoke with Carnegie's Amr Hamzawy about the growing civil unrest in Egypt.
Hamzawy noted that whether the current uprising in Cairo will have the same outcome as the Jasmine revolution in Tunisia depends on a number of factors. It took the opposition in Tunisia four weeks to topple former President Ben Ali’s regime and force him to leave the country, Hamzawy said, and it is still too early to predict whether the protests in Egypt will lead to political change.
It is significant that the Egyptian middle class is now fueling the demonstrations, which call for efficient solutions to the widening gap between rich and poor, Hamzawy contended. Additionally, educated young male and female Egyptians are mobilizing on their own, outside of any calls from political leaders. They demand political freedoms and civil liberties and call for the opening of the political arena and better contestation of the parliamentary and presidential elections, as well as social justice and equal distribution of the wealth. Hamzawy suggested that Egyptian youth have been inspired by the recent events in Tunisia.
To counter the escalating protests, Egyptian authorities are stepping in: they have shut down or limited access to social media tools and outlets like Twitter and Facebook, in an attempt to control and contain the demonstrations, which are rapidly turning into nationwide protest movements. But Hamzawy asserted that activists, as proven in Tunisia, are able to get around such censorship and can continue to organize and mobilize.